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Peter S. Henne

Religion and power in international relations

Posted: June 13th, 2017 by phenne

I am beginning a new research program that examines how religion can serve as a source of power in international relations. Religion is often seen as secondary to military or economic might, and if scholars do think it can be a form of power often focus on non-state actors or broad definitions of power. But can religion have a direct impact on states, compelling them to adopt policies they would otherwise not adopt or constituting actors and interests through social relations?

In order to answer this question, I am turning to two literature that have not been extensively applied in the study of religion and international relations: the “practice turn” in international relations theory, and international hierarchies.

The project is in an early stage, but I will be presenting a paper on religion as a source of power in interstate crises at the 2018 Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association. I also presented a paper examining hierarchy outside of religion in the Middle East at a conference last year; specifically, I looked at the role of informal hierarchies in the Six Day War/June War. A working paper version is available here: Follow the Leader_Henne Henne_Follow the Leader

I laid some of the foundations for this project in a co-authored piece with Daniel Nexon of Georgetown University–One cheer for classical realism, or toward a power politics of religion, published in Religion and the Realist Tradition: From Political Theology to International Relations Theory and Back, edited by Jodok Troy–we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of classical realism in understanding religious politics and present a new framework for analyzing the power politics of religion.



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